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Opinions: Haiti Corruption; Financial Sector Tax, G8 Promises; Investing In Women

Preval’s Response To Corruption Queries Is ‘A Public Relations Debacle’

A Washington Post editorial reflects on Haitian President Rene Preval’s response to U.S. policy makers’ queries “about the perils of corruption and what measures the Haitian government might devise to minimize misuse and theft of the billions of dollars in recovery assistance flowing into the country and the billions more expected” during his visit this week to Washington D.C. “Surprisingly, he seems utterly unprepared to discuss the matter,” the editorial notes.

“While it’s true that the government is notoriously weak and lacks resources, now more than ever, it’s equally true that government officials and their cronies in the private sector have enriched themselves lavishly in the past. To assert, as the president does, that such troubles all belong to history is to turn a deaf ear to donors’ legitimate and pressing concerns,” according to the editorial. “What’s more, it’s a public relations debacle at just the moment that Haiti needs to burnish its image so that the world’s outpouring of compassion can be fashioned into a long-term, multibillion-dollar recovery package. … If he expects Congress, international financial institutions and the world’s other major donors to pony up billions to rebuild Haiti, he can help his cause by taking concerns about corruption seriously and spelling out ways the government can help the international community to contain it” (3/11).

Portion Of Financial Sector Tax Can Help To Fulfill G8 Aid Promises

In a London Times’ column, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, calls for a portion of the proposed financial sector tax throughout G20 economies to be “devoted to the global poor.” Sachs writes, “As always, the poorest have borne the brunt of financial misdeeds and watched the brazenness of bank bonuses alongside broken promises of global assistance. Pledging part of the tax to development aid would help to harmonise the aid burden.” 

“At Gleneagles in 2005 the G8 promised to double annual aid to Africa by 2010, roughly $30 billion extra each year. They have fallen about $20 billion short this year,” Sachs continues. “What the Wall Street bankers take home in year-end bonuses in a bad year, the mighty G8 can’t find for 800 million of the world’s poorest and hungriest people, even to honour an explicit and oft-repeated promise. There is no better use for the banking tax than to honour those promises, and put development assistance on a predictable and reliable basis” (3/10).

Investment In Women Can Empower Communities

Marking International Women’s Day, Former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, Dana Perino, reflects in a Politico opinion piece on the women she met during a recent trip to Ghana and Sierra Leone, who despite “living in extreme poverty … are quietly transforming their countries’ economic and social conditions.” In the piece, she writes about a clinic in Sierra Leone, which is working to help women with obstetric fistula. Perino also describes how a group of women in Ghana are participating in a rice co-op, from which, “[t]he income earned provides their families with food and health care and sends their children to school – laying the groundwork for a better life. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Ghana. It’s a story unfolding across the African continent. Empowering one woman is an investment in the future of families and countries.”

“Together, we can pool our power to connect, take action and help shape a better, more profitable future for the women I met, their families and, ultimately, their countries,” Perino concludes (3/8).

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